Saturday, January 28, 2012

Women farmers in India adapt to climate change

Aditi Kapoor in the the Deccan Herald (India): ...Innovative measures by women farmers across India are helping several poor families adapt better to climate change and keep hunger at bay. As Sursati from village Janakpur, district Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, explains, “Earlier, we could not produce enough food for a year because our village would get water-logged by the flood waters. Now, using early maturing paddy varieties and organic manure to revive soil fertility, we can at least eat for all 12 months from the same piece of land.”

Sursati is one of the many women being helped by a local NGO, Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG), in the flood-prone areas of eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP), where climate vagaries have been impacting agricultural production for some years now. Many farmers in Gorakhpur district, for instance, have stopped growing pulses because “winters are so late and so short these days.” Yet, there are some women farmers like Kamlavati, from village Janakpur, who now train other women in adaptation techniques. “I go as a trainer to the government’s Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) farmer field school,” she reveals.

...There is an urgent need to focus on sound adaptation measures, especially those that benefit women directly. With gram panchayats now made responsible for village development plans, they can, in the wake of climate change, make ‘Local Action Plans on Adaptation’, or LAPAs, to climate-proof their development plans, much like poor, developing countries are today making NAPAs — National Action Plans on Adaptation — as part of the UN climate agreements.

Some women-friendly adaptation measures that can be promoted as part of LAPAs include village-level grain banks, which have proved popular in disaster-prone villages across states, including in Bengal and Odisha. Dakshin, a tribal woman farmer in the Kerandimal tribal area in Ganjam district, Odisha, puts it this way, “Grain banks mean our men will not migrate when the crops fail and that we will have enough to eat, too. We women have often starved because we preferred giving the available food to our husbands and our children.”...

Farm workers sorting eggplants in Sejwat, in Gujarat, shot by Arne Hückelheim, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

No comments: